An enamelled gold Dagmar Cross by Borgen & Co,

Copenhagen, c.1865-75


in the Byzantine taste, decorated with champlevé enamel, the design based directly on the Dagmar Cross (a reliquary of gold and cloisonné enamel dating to the 11th or 12th century), hinged to reveal a glazed compartment within.

Signed: BORGEN & CO beneath the Prince of Wales feather.
Stamped: 18c

Length: 5cm

The original Dagmar Cross was thought to have belonged to Queen Dagmar of Denmark (c.1186-1212), wife of King Valdemar II. The cross was discovered in 1683 in St Bendt’s Church in Ringsted, but now resides in the National Museum of Denmark, after being transferred to the Royal Treasury in 1695.

In 1863, King Frederik VII of Denmark commissioned a faithful copy of this great treasure to give to Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925) as a wedding gift when she married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII). Alexandra was the daughter of the future King Christian IX, who succeeded the throne on the death of King Frederick, having been chosen as heir presumptive in 1852. The replica cross was presented as part of an elaborate pearl and diamond necklace, known as the Dagmar Necklace, which remains in the collection of His Majesty King Charles III today.

The present example may have been made by Vilhelm Christesen for Borgen & Co, as it is remarkably similar to a Dagmar Cross pendant by Christesen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (89.2.120). A nineteenth century example of the Dagmar Cross without enamel retailed by Borgen & Co and attributed to Christesen can also be found in the permanent collection of The British Museum in London (1986,0607.1).

 Borgen & Co were importers of Danish manufactures and works of art, establishing the Royal Danish Galleries on Bond Street in 1869. In the lid satin of surviving fitted boxes, it records that they were ‘under the immediate patronage of HRH The Princess of Wales’ and had a shop at 142 New Bond Street. It was no doubt the Danish Princess Alexandra’s marriage to the Prince of Wales that prompted Borgen to open a premises in London.